McDonald’s: Dozier feels hometown love

CHICAGO — When fans watch South Carolina’s freshman class trot out onto the court for the first time next season, one of those rookies, Perry Dozier, will be a very familiar face.

There was a time when Perry Dozier looked like he might not choose his hometown school. The Columbia (S.C.) Spring Valley product appeared to favor North Carolina early on, then began to see heavy attention from Louisville, Michigan and others.

But it was Frank Martin’s hometown Gamecocks who won out in the end. Not only did South Carolina enjoy the proximity advantage, Dozier’s family is steeped in USC tradition as both his father and his uncle competed for the hometown school.

Ultimately, the deep connections and opportunity to help a rebuilding program won out.

”Playing for South Carolina, it’s a blessing to represent my family and play for my home state,” Dozier said at this week’s McDonald’s festivities. “I see them building and I wanted to be a part of it.”

Dozier performed solidly at this week’s practices. He knocked down some jump shots — historically, an area of inconsistency — and, as always, made numerous pinpoint passes. A 6-6 wing who passes with such unselfish alacrity can make his teammates better, and that’s exactly what Dozier does when he’s at his best. He doesn’t have to be a scorer to contribute, though certainly that would boost his chances for making the sport’s highest level.

That development will play out over the longer term, but in the moment, he has soaked up the competition this week and taken as much as he can from the opportunity.

”I’ve loved it this week,” Dozier said. “I get to go up against the best players in the U.S.”

He also understands that, despite the fact that he’ll immediately become one of South Carolina’s most talented players, he’ll have to learn the college game and needs to enter school with the mindset to be taught. Based on his maturity and very high hoops IQ, that process should flow smoothly.

”I’m just going to be the best basketball player I can be,” he said. “I want to be a great team player and hopefully become a leader.”

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